Why Obsession is *Good*

Why Obsession is *Good*

~ musings on obsession.

“I swore, from that point on, to approach every matchup as a matter of life and death. No one was going to have that kind of control over my focus ever again.”

~ Kobe Bryant
Kobe moments after winning title #2, thinking about title #3

We revere the results of obsession. From movies and music, to sports superstardom — our society’s beauty is built upon the productions of obsessive action.

What does obsessed mean?

To be “obsessed” is to be persistently and disturbingly preoccupied with an idea or feeling, often unreasonable. Laced throughout that definition is the problematic nature of the state. To be obsessed is to be consumed. To be obsessed is to waste or misallocate time, to follow foolish dreams or overwork yourself with meaningless preoccupations. An obsessed person is kinda not to be taken seriously, so says the etymology.

But what of the mother obsessed with her children, lovingly so?

What about the athlete who never gives up, obsessed as they are with winning?

How about the detective who obsessively seeks true justice at any cost?

We pride ourselves on virtue and success. In many fields, such things only come with an obsessive focus. The obsessively accurate accountant is to be admired.

In The Players’ Tribune in 2017, after his retirement the previous season, Kobe Bryant wrote an article titled “Obsession Is Natural.” Reflecting on his career, the NBA great sometimes referred to as “The Black Mamba” speaks of his early-career rivalry with Allen Iverson.

Kobe and A.I. would both go on to shape the 2000s NBA with style. And though Iverson is one of the best stars of all time, no one can match Kobe’s long commitment to the game of basketball. Stories of his legendary, if psychopathic, investment in succeeding on the court abound — especially now following his tragic end in early 2020 {RIP}. Kobe won 5 championships across a 20-year career where he was never not in the conversation about best player of the era. A 6’6” shooting guard with top flight athleticism and transcendent mechanics, Kobe was perhaps the most creative scorer the game had ever seen (*not* named Michael).

The two prime time dunkers with killer jumpers and lockdown defense – Kobe and Jordan – shared a lot in common.

More than any other player — maybe in NBA history — Kobe *worked.* A gym rat’s gym rat, Kobe practiced like a religion, with the game as the deity and himself as a prophet. 4AM, thousands of elbow jumpers, blood, sweat and tears, etc. – the works. Every day for 20 years. As he aged and entered the back half of his time, switching his number from 8 to 24, Kobe’s play only sharpened. He was always finding new moves, new ways to win.

Kobe’s legend can be heard with every office fadeaway.

Kobe was obsessed.

Kobe is one of the greatest athletes to ever live.

Obsession is good. ~